To Live and Die in L.A. Movie Review

To Live and Die in L.A.

A federal agent is dead. A killer is loose. And the City of Angels is about to explode.


Willem Dafoe, William L. Petersen, John Pankow, Darlanne Fluegel

Dean Stockwell, John Turturro, Debra Feuer, Steve James, Robert Downey Sr., Michael Greene, Christopher Allport, Jack Hoar, Valentin de Vargas, Dwier Brown, Michael Chong, Jackie Giroux, Michael Zand, Bobby Bass, Dar Robinson Update Cast

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Despite critical acclaim, "To Live and Die in L.A." was a box office flop, bringing in only $16 million in the U.S.

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Something shaky has happened in the City of Angels.

It is not an earthquake. It doesn't even have to do with destruction.

A cop was murdered... And now his partner is out for revenge.

It's 1985 and it's not looking good. William Friedkin, the man behind such classics as 'The French Connection', 'The Exorcist' etc. was in a bit of a lull. After directing that terrible, terrible mess known as 'Deal of the Century' with Chevy Chase who would have thought that he was about to re-announce himself with a BANG!

"To Live and Die in L.A." tells the story of one of the most ruthless villains in 80's cinema. His name is Eric Masters (Willem Dafoe), a career counterfeiter who has managed to stay one step ahead of the law for a long time.

One day at his health club, a group of undercover agents arrive to make a deal with him. Masters says to them: "I've been coming to this gym three times a week for five years. I'm an easy guy to find. People know they can trust me."

Then later, one of the agents, Jim Hart (Michael Greene), is brutally murdered by Masters. This gets the attention of Hart's partner, Richard Chance (William Petersen), a down-and-out Secret Service agent who vows to get back at Masters for the murder, even if he has to break the law to do so.

With the help of his new partner, John Vukovich (John Pankow, "Secret of My Success"), Chance embarks on a non-stop manhunt to bring Masters to justice, whatever the cost.

Another important character in the movie is the beautiful ex-convict Ruth Lanier, who is stuck with providing information that helps Chance get the best of Masters. Darlanne Fluegel, who plays Ruth, gives her best screen performance in this movie.

One of the highlights of this movie is the big car chase that goes on the wrong side of the road. It is definitely one of the greatest car chases in cinema history and makes the film an 80's classic.

Working from the novel of the same name by Gerald Petievich, Friedkin and Petievich craft a sumptuous thriller where the only thing different about the good guys is the fact that they have badges. Sadly neglected and overlooked on it's release this is one of the 80's best. And with a great new DVD released... Start saving now.

Author: Philip MartinUpdate This Review


Fast-paced and full of intense action, "To Live and Die in L.A." is director William Friedkin's best work since "The Exorcist."

Excellent casting and a hot soundtrack by 80's new wavers Wang Chung (see the soundtrack section for more details) add to this urban thriller.

I mean, wow, I can't praise this film highly enough. The editing, the cinematography, the acting. The sheer amorality of it all. Marry this with a cracking soundtrack by 80's stars Wang Chung (what the hell ever happened to 'em?). Top it all with a nihilistic ending... what more could a person want? Did I mention car chases going the wrong way on a freeway?

Thrilling, sylish and brutal. This is one of the 80's best. Don't miss it.

Intersting characters and lots of action, along with a cool soundtrack.

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The Movie Data

Key Crew

Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Gerald Petievich, William Friedkin, Gerald Petievich
Producers: Irving H. Levin, Samuel Schulman, Bud S. Smith
Locations Manager: Michael Healy

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Release Date: 01 Nov 1985
MPAA Rating: R
Studio: United Artists
Production: New Century Productions
Genre: Thriller

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The Movie Trailer
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1985 United Artists
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